Economy | Business Tanzanian News

Commercialization of Natural Gas Reserves in Mozambique and Tanzania Will Remain Central to Public Safety, National Security, and Political Power in Both Countries in Coming Years.

In November, Tanzania started a new round of talks with Equinor and Shell to agree a framework for the mooted liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Lindi Region. Also in November, a floating LNG facility started its voyage from South Korea to Mozambique’s offshore Area 4. Total’s Senior Vice-President Africa Henry-Max Ndong Nzues expressed guarded satisfaction with operations against the insurgents in Cabo Delgado, though stopped short of resuming project development. On 25 November, Mozambique launched its Sixth Licensing Round, with five of 16 offshore blocks being off Cabo Delgado province. All these projects have varying timelines but will inevitably affect the security situation on both sides of the border for years to come.

On 8 November, talks concerning a host government agreement for Tanzania’s LNG project officially re-commenced with energy companies. Though the aim of completing the talks by May 2022 is unlikely to be met and a final investment decision is likely a long way off — and may never come — heightened activity can be expected in Lindi town, the future site of the LNG plant, and Mtwara town, a base for any future offshore developments of the southerly Shell operated fields. Much of this will be positive, particularly for Tanzanian private sector investment. Yet, recent history has some lessons for how such activity may be received locally, and its potential impact on political violence. 

In January and May 2013, in Mtwara, Tanzania experienced its greatest outbreak of civil unrest since the Majimaji rebellion over 100 years before. In December 2012 and January 2013, mass demonstrations were held to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline, under the slogan “Gesi Haitoki Mtwara” (the gas is not leaving Mtwara). The demonstrations were led by some Mtwara NGOs, local branches of opposition political parties, and religious leaders both Christian and Muslim. The demonstrations were followed by seemingly organized violence across Mtwara Region.

Clashes in January saw politicians’ homes, a prison, government and ruling party offices, and government vehicles attacked. Mtwara town, Tandahimba, and Masasi were all affected. Clashes occurred again in May after the presentation in parliament of the budget for the Ministry of Energy and Minerals. This led to the deployment of troops in Mtwara town.

Current state concerns about security in the region stem from the violence of that period. The government believed that the 2013 violence was instigated for political reasons, and reacted accordingly. The then-member of parliament for Mtwara Urban was charged with incitement, while a Tanzania People’s Defence Force commander pointed the finger at religious leaders, motorcycle taxi drivers, and city businessmen, accusing them of organizing the violence. Less publicly, informants in Mtwara town have spoken of Salafist elements having had a hand in the violence.

The lesson for 2021 and beyond is that the use of violence in response to LNG development is not restricted to extremists. Shell’s natural gas reserves lie close to Mtwara town. Shell and its subcontractors will need to expand their presence in order to develop the reserves, which requires significant infrastructure development. The impact in Lindi will of course be greater if the LNG plant goes ahead. Project benefits will need to be cannily distributed, and rents will need to be managed in politically sensitive ways. 

The security risks in Cabo Delgado are of course more acute. Total suspended operations on its Mozambique LNG project in April 2021 following the attack in March on Palma town by the insurgents, a decision that has contributed to further delays to the ExxonMobil-led Rovuma LNG project. This followed the withdrawal of staff from the project in the face of an insurgent attack in January on Quitunda, which is beside the project site. The attack highlighted France’s strategic interests in at least containing the insurgency to allow the project to go ahead. Rwanda’s success in securing the enclave of Palma town and the neighboring LNG site, while fighting continues across Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces, confirms for some Rwanda’s role as a proxy for French interests.

The January and March attacks on Quitunda and Palma saw IS propagandists cite France as exploiting Muslim communities, in one case comparing Mozambican gas to West African gold. If Rwandan and Mozambican forces are successful in securing Palma and the Afungi peninsula as an enclave, and resume Mozambique LNG, France may find itself increasingly tied to the project’s security risks. Given Total’s interests in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Tanzania, France will undoubtedly continue to exert its influence on security matters across the region.

In the longer term, Mozambique’s 6th Licensing Round too has the potential to drive extremist narratives for years to come, if it is successful. The round, launched in November, will close in October 2022. Three offshore blocks lie off Chiure, Pemba, Quissanga, Ibo, and Macomia districts. Their development will depend on the province’s long term security, or failing that, the development of an expanded coastal enclave. The model that Mozambique pursues to manage the security risks around LNG development — and the success of that model — will have major economic and governance implications on both sides of the Ruvuma. If Mozambique LNG development cannot survive the political upheaval that has grown in its wake, Tanzania is likely to take a much more repressive approach to its own LNG projects.



“Welcome to Serengeti Baby”, Will Smith in Tanzania

Tanzanian News

Tanzanian Filmmaker Amil Shivji is Making History with a Story of Love and Resistance

Amil Shiviji remembers, like many other Tanzanians, reading the book “Vuta N’Kuvute” when he was in high school. Written in Swahili, Adam Shafi’s award-winning coming-of-age love story, set in colonial Zanzibar, left an impression on Shiviji, a budding young writer at the time. But it wasn’t until he was in the middle of working on his first film, many years later, that he returned to the story, looking for inspiration among local authors like Shafi. The novel would not only provide that, but it would also become the second film he made and the first from Tanzania to be selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.

Born in Dar Es Salaam, Shivji has spent his career telling stories of marginalized communities and re-imagining the way Tanzania is seen on screen. When he’s not making films, he’s lecturing at the University of Dar es Salaam.

He spoke to OkayAfrica about shooting Tug of War (Vuta N’Kuvute) in Zanzibar and researching colonial-era life.

How did you return to the story of Vuta N’Kuvute?

I was dealing with writer’s block in the middle of making my first film, T-Junction, which also has two women at the center of the story. A friend suggested I take inspiration from some of our local writers. I picked up Vuta N’Kuvute and started reading it, and it really took me on a journey. The writing, the poetry, the symbolism, the metaphors, everything about it was so Zanzibari. You felt the island, you felt the coast, you felt the rhythm of the waves, you felt everything that Shafi wrote, and it was very cinematic. It just spoke to where I was in my career; I was developing my visual style more. So it helped me finish T-Junction and definitely gave me the inspiration to do the script. But I also then knew I wanted to make a movie out of the book.

How did you eventually end up making it?

I optioned the novel in 2016, which is not really a method of working in Tanzania. But I thought it’s best to do this, to try to formalize these approaches to filmmaking and these structures, as much as we can in order to create an infrastructure. I used it to create an example of a possible infrastructure of our own, that can be more long-term. So at the time, I was like, if the movie gets made, and I have an interview one day, with [for example,] OkayAfrica, I can tell them about it. It can be part of the story and the creative possibility and not just a fluke or coincidence. You can choose a novel to make a film. So we optioned the book, and then felt confident to continue with the film and bought the rights two years later. And then we shot it.

You chose to shoot more in Ng’ ambo, the so-called ‘other side’ of Zanzibar, rather than in the more popular area of Stone Town. What was that like?

There’s no denying the role Stone Town plays in the tourism, the narrative, of Zanzibar. I understand the necessity of that. It is a beautiful place for people to come and see it. But Zanzibar is so much more than a World Heritage Site and so much more than the old buildings of the Sultan, or the slave trade. It’s current, it’s contemporary, there are people there. And I wanted to tell their story. And that’s where I chose to base the film, more on the Ng’ambo side, which in Kiswahili in English means the other side, like the other side of the tracks, the working-class neighborhood. So we filmed more there and that really made me happy. Because even when we were working out there, people appreciate the fact that we were telling a story from that side and not just Stone Town. If you want to be honest to the history, the struggle of the working class in Zanzibar, then it would be happening in Ng’ambo. The colonial administration officers never went to that side. So a lot more places of resistance for more activities would happen there. Stone Town was really the colonial stronghold. Making a revolutionary piece for me in the 1950s, it would have been contradictory to set it in Stone Town simply for the mesmerizing architecture.

You made a 50s-era period piece — what was the most enjoyable part of that for you?

The research. I come from a culture of academia, my family [is full of] academics, I spent significant time at the university research lab and also teach at the university. So the research report is probably the most exciting part because it really allowed us to tap into the primary source material, which was probably the majority of it was led by white researchers and authors from the West. And the way they would write about Zanzibar — not all of them — but more times than not, was in a very, like, outside, foreign perspective, looking in from the out, and not really speaking to the everyday struggles of the Zanzibar people, that someone who speaks Swahili can very much understand. So there’s a lot of contradiction in the research material, which pushed me to further do more of my own primary collective research, which was talking to Zanzibar people and going to the archives. The archives are not in the best state. So what we did is, when we would collect material, we would go back to the archives and give them digital copies on a flash or over email, or digitize some of their work, as well, and give it back to them. When I make films, it’s not just about the final film, it’s always about the process. It’s part of my activism. Every film I make affects me as an individual. Finding the right material to be able to tap into, from the 1950s, was a challenge because we were never behind the camera at that time. But we really were able to gather the information that contradicted a lot of the historical material that was there, but also offered us a way to tell the story that we felt was true to Zanzibar’s history.

‘Taarab’ music is a big part of this film…

Historically ‘taarab‘ was Arabic music that came from Egypt. It was really highbrow, elitist in its approach. It was not meant for the Black African population. It was meant for the Arab and Indian population, more so, the Arab population. It would be a huge orchestra, 20-25 people singing in Arabic. And then came Siti binti Saad, the famous taarab singer from Zanzibar, and the first African to sign with Columbia Records. We modeled [actress] Site Amina’s character on Siti binti Saad.

She was from Ng’ambo, she was a working poor class woman. She would sing in the Sultan’s palace, because of how beautiful her voice was, and she would sing in Arabic. But when she would go back to Ng’ambo area, she would sing in Swahili for the people. She would do this because they had a story to tell. Either they’d come to her to complain about an abusive husband or to complain about the landlord taking too much money, so she would immediately start creating lyrics and singing in response to this. And the songs would be so good that everyone wanted to sing them too. They were catchy, but it was also a way of responding to the social or current issue. She was doing it in Kiswahili because said more people could access it. She revolutionized taarab in East Africa.

What do you think your film being at Toronto means for the Tanzanian film industry?

I’m careful to call it an industry yet because we lack the infrastructures for it to be sustainable for it to be long term. It’s more of a film sector, and we make a lot of films but they don’t cross boundaries, they don’t go to festivals. We don’t even have any marketing and distribution models anymore. Now that we had any, but there was some form of distribution to the DVD market but that’s completely sidelined by the streaming platforms. If it was an industry, you would have this infrastructure for people to follow through with, but I think we’re getting there, and I think putting in these small elements, small pillars of direction does allow filmmakers and future filmmakers and even current filmmakers to have a system in place that they can depend on and can develop together and grow together. Because creativity exists, the power force exists and labor exists, the interest and enthusiasm is there, clearly, but we lack professionalism, inherently because of the lack of infrastructure. So I feel like if we continue to focus on making good films, but also in addition, trying to create most of the presence internationally, then we can get more of, not only a financial injection into the film industry, but also a creative one.

The film will have its African premiere in Burkina Faso. Where to from there?

We would like to bring it home in a way that really creates an impact. It’s a novel in schools, so we’d like to send it to schools, create a discourse around Zanzibar history. It hasn’t been taught properly, or it has been redacted in many ways, for political reasons. Also, I want to make sure the film finds an audience beyond Tanzania because this is one for the Swahili-speaking region — Mombasa in Kenya, Nairobi, Rwanda, Uganda, all the way to Somalia, this represents the coast. It’s not a unique one-of-a-kind story. It’s the 1950s, it’s a time of revolution, of star-crossed lovers, so it’s not a unique story, per se, but Zanzibar makes it unique.


Tanzanian News

Worrying Development in Tanzania as Internet is Reportedly Throttled

Reports from Tanzania indicate that access to Twitter is only possible using VPN.

English News

Tanzania Receives 1st Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — Tanzania on Saturday received its first batch of 1 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the U.S. government.

Tanzania had been among the few countries in Africa yet to receive vaccines or start inoculating its population, mainly because its former leader had claimed prayer had defeated COVID-19 in the country.

The vaccines were received by Foreign Affairs Minister Liberata Mulamula and the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, Donald Wright, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

Former Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who died in March, had refused to accept vaccines after he claimed three days of prayer had healed the country of the virus in June 2020.

Magufuli, 61, was among the world’s most prominent skeptics of COVID-19. Though his official cause of death was reported to be cardiac arrest, Magufuli’s critics believe he died of COVID-19.

Magufuli’s deputy, Samai Suluhu Hassan, took over as president in line with the country’s constitution and became the first female president in Tanzania.

Hassan has reversed Tanzania’s practice of denying COVID-19′s spread in the East African country.

Source: AP

English News

Tanzania Receives First Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccines

The East African nation plans to inoculate 60% of its 60m population from coronavirus, Health Minister Dorothy Gwajima announced today


Tanzania Ranks 37th On Global Cybersecurity Index, Among LDCs Such as Bangladesh, Benin, Rwanda, Which Have Demonstrated Strong Cybersecurity Commitments.

Download full report HERE

English News

Tanzania to request to join COVAX vaccine-sharing facility – WHO

NAIROBI, June 17 (Reuters) – Tanzania plans to request to join the COVAX global vaccine-sharing facility, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday, the latest sign of the country’s change of tack following the death of its COVID-19 sceptic president in March.

Former President John Magufuli had underplayed the pandemic and expressed scepticism of vaccines, but his successor Samia Suluhu Hassan has sought to gradually bring the country into line with global public standards for tackling COVID-19.

The nation of more than 58 million people is one of just four African countries that have yet to start vaccination campaigns, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We have received information that Tanzania is now formally working to join the COVAX facility,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told a news conference.

Tanzanian authorities were not immediately reachable for comment.

In another indication of the country’s new approach, its finance minister said last week that the government has asked the International Monetary Fund for a $571 million loan to help it tackle the challenges caused by the pandemic.

Tanzania stopped reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths in May 2020 and despite other policy changes by the new president, has not resumed reporting data.


English News

Amnesty International Proposes a Human Rights Agenda For Tanzania Under President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s New Administration.

English News

CPJ Calls on Tanzania President @SuluhuSamia to Reform Press Laws